Publisher's Note: A crash course
By Jeff Rapsis
I ride my bicycle a lot in the Manchester/Nashua area, and I’ve had my share of close calls. Drivers open doors without looking, turn into side streets without checking, and yell at you to get on the sidewalk. And bicyclists (yes, me included) sometimes go against the flow of traffic, disobey signals and “freelance” through intersections.
It’s an unsafe situation, but I’ve always felt I was alert (or at least lucky) enough to cope. But this summer, my luck ran out when I was the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
It was a serious crash. Riding my bike, I was heading toward the bottom of a hill on Manchester’s South Main Street, going at a good clip (maybe 20 mph) when a driver going the other way unexpectedly crossed the road without signaling. Cut off, I had no choice but to run right into his passenger side door. This happened in less than a second.
I held onto the bike, which bounced off the car and backward. I wound up laying on my back on Winter Street, the bike still between my legs. I later found that both forks holding the bike’s front wheel split cleanly. That’s what absorbed the impact, and what kept me from being seriously injured.
Still, I was hurt, laying in the street with a bloodied left shoulder and banged-up left knee. But it wasn’t enough to stop me from jumping up and confronting the driver, who had stopped to ask if I was OK. Imagine my response. And so this guy got back into his car — to pull over, I thought. Instead, he zoomed off up the street.
But I knew what the car and driver looked like. Also, the crash had taken off the car’s passenger side mirror and left a sizable dent. Though police couldn’t find the vehicle that night, I found it the next morning. Police interviewed the driver, who denied involvement. As of this writing, I’m waiting to pick him out of a police line-up so charges can be pressed.
The outcome of this — me not seriously injured, the driver getting caught — was mostly a matter of luck. But sharing the road shouldn’t involve luck.
It’s a matter of you, Mr. and Mrs. Motorist, taking a moment to realize that bikes by law use the roads you drive on. And it’s a matter of bicyclists obeying the same traffic rules that all vehicles must follow. I’ve been guilty of “freelancing” through intersections once in a while, but no more.
And we can build all the bicycle paths in the world, but motorists and bicyclists will still have to share our roads. So we might all try a little harder, might we not?